Saturday, January 24, 2015


It seems to be the appropriate time of year to write about wood.
Wood. (Singular or plural? I love this word.)
Sugar Maple bark.
We burn it all day long in our home stove. We build with it: benches for the new greenhouse, a pine floor for my studio, a pencil holder for Prentice's birthday (shhh! Don't tell! It is Benny's secret project!). We think about it and plan it into our future: what part of the woodlot next year's firewood will come from, how much wood our new greenhouse will need to grow rockin' good seedlings, what trees we will grow out for FEDCO Trees. And we dream about it: I want to plant raspberry canes, American Plum seedlings, more elderberries, build a grape arbor and  on and on.

We just got an email from a beginning farmer in Vermont who is starting a medicinal forest orchard. I tell you, I love to grow vegetables but my heart sings when I think of a "medicinal forest orchard." Wow. I want to plant one, too! Let me on that train!

This farmer was seeking rootstock for an elderberry variety that we "introduced" a few years ago. I say "introduce" as that is plant world lingo for bringing a new variety into the world--of commerce, yes, but also because they are plants, I think of it as spreading the genetic material. In this case, an old variety, probably a chance seedling gets to become a "new" variety. Anyways, enough with the "quotation marks!" We took cuttings, propagated them, grew them out here in our nursery, dug them and sold the young plants to FEDCO Trees. I, quite literally, grew up under this elder. It is the elderberry that grows from the place where my parents' 200 year old barn and the earth meet. It grows from the foundation, it seems, but I know it's roots are in the earth. We called it 'Meadowview' after my parents' farm.
Some cuttings of cornus rugosa.
Before I can commit to sending elderberry wood or young plants to this inspiring, forward thinking farmer in Vermont, we shall have to wait and see how many cuttings I can humanely take from my parents' planting this spring. We have established our own 'Meadowview' elderberry orchard here at Village Farm but the plants are still too small to take cuttings. And somehow, without that barn looming overhead and those granite foundation stones, I am somehow in doubt that it will be the same variety.

A sculpture carved into a stump in Belfast, Maine. Photo by Joseph.

Perhaps you will plant a tree this spring. Perhaps I will, too!
More, soon. A new website is on its way.
All the best from here,
Polly and co.